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Labour Backs Off Child Support Cop Out

Katherine Rich MP National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

05 December 2003

Labour Backs Off Child Support Cop Out

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich is welcoming David Cunliffe's apparent back-down on a move that could have seen more than $400 million of child support debt written off.

"Over the space of just a couple of days the Associate Finance spokesman appears to have changed his tune.

"After standing idly by as child support debt more than doubled to $730 million in the past four years, Mr Cunliffe announced on Wednesday that liable parents 'will be able to write off back-debt on a $1 for $1 basis.'

"Yesterday in Parliament he backed away from the 'new debt reduction bill' that he had been reported as saying would be introduced by mid-2004.

"Now he says Labour's 'canvassing a range of options' although he did admit that the Government hopes 'to reduce penalties on an ongoing basis'.

"The National Party is calling on Mr Cunliffe, or a more senior member of the Government to immediately make it clear what is in store for liable parents.

"What incentive will those people have to pay their debts, if they think the Government is planning to write them off," Mrs Rich says.

"Millions more in debt will be accumulated while those absent parents wait to see if they're going to be let off the hook.

"Labour's real reason for writing off the debt is to hide the true cost of its social agenda. An agenda which has included the removal of the work test for those on the DPB and the promotion of sole parent families.

"Solo parents do deserve our help and support, but the ultimate responsibility must be shared by both parents. Labour should accept that," says Mrs Rich.


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